Everything Changes

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On Audra's third album, things are still more than a little shadowy in the corners, but there's a fuller pep and rock drive that step well beyond the understated goth of the band's start for something as good, but enjoyably and understandably different after seven years between their previous album and this one. Bret and Bart Helm more than once sound like they've beamed in from a mid-'80s bill featuring bands like the Sound and the Chameleons, with opening song "100 Years Old" having all the surging charge one could expect right down to the additional keyboards on top of the main riff and steady rhythm roll. It's hardly that the old spirit of acoustic-led serene stateliness has disappeared, as the string-touched "Jason and the Doors" shows in its calm, quiet focus (suiting the lyrics about personal decision and those who disappear in life), as does the piano-led "Silver Music," but it's more often the case that things take on a bigger, often louder turn. "What's Meant to Be" has one of the Helms doing his best dry but quietly passionate David Bowie-style delivery over guitars and drum machine, but the shift to a more full-on charge and shimmer as the song continues readily captures where the group is now, while "Life on This Planet," if not quite industrial-rock as such, has the kind of shift from bass-led verses to full-on choruses that will ring plenty of bells among longtime Nine Inch Nails listeners. Meanwhile, the concluding song, "Syd Barrett," far from being a fractured folkish confection, ends on a pretty epic note of spiraling guitars and slow-burn punch, using the famed singer's name as a reference point for a romantic contemplation.

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